LE MANS [1971] movie review

December 31, 2011 · Print This Article

In the IMDB description of LE MANS, it is described as an almost documentary, which I think is very appropriate, as LE MANS is definitely not your typical movie. I could memorize all the dialogue in the movie in five minutes. What LE MANS really is, is an intense motor race with some driver relationships that are not at all clear. Therefore, if the thought of hearing cars roar at 200mph for nearly two hours is not appealing to you, then LE MANS would be torture. However, if you love the sound of a Porsche or Ferrari engine, then you will appreciate the lack of dialogue and focus on engine noise.

I learned about this movie starring Steve McQueen because the Porsche 917 he drives in the opening scenes was recently sold and noted on Autoblog.com. The setting for 95% of the movie is the Le Mans racetrack home of a grueling 24 hour race where two drivers take turns driving a single car as fast as they can around a track that takes about three and half minutes to lap. The ability for the car to keep running for 24 hours is more important than driver skill in this type of race. There is a significant rivalry though between the Porsche and Ferrari drivers.


Early in the movie there is a flashback to a car crash during a race, but I could not really figure out what happened, only that the accident seemed serious and either someone was majorly hurt or died. It might have helped to know the exact circumstances of that accident for the whole movie, but even though I could not follow it, it mattered little as only Steve McQueen’s character and that of a blonde woman who showed concern about the earlier crash matter. I could tell the crash caused estrangement between them.


The cars and the racing are the real stars of the movie with some incredible car mounted camera action. You can really feel how tense it gets when cars doing 200mph+ are only inches apart from each other.


The results of the race are not at all a typical Hollywood ending, making the moving a start to finish intense thrill.


Got something to say?